Enforcing the single-use plastic ban

Source: The post is based on the article “Enforcing the single-use plastic ban” published in “The Hindu” on 5th July 2022.

Syllabus: GS 3 – Environmental pollution and degradation.

Relevance: To understand the challenges associated with the Single-use plastic ban.

News: India’s ban on select single-use plastic(SUPs) items came into effect from July 1, 2022.

Why does the government ban SUPs?

Unlike thicker and denser plastic material, single-use plastic objects being light and flexible are less amenable to being recycled.

About 99% of recycled plastic constitutes heavier plastics that are likely to be collected by ragpickers and plastic waste recyclers. Single use plastics do not provide an incentive enough for the effort needed to collect them and hence they lie around.

Hence, SUPs leach their toxins into the soil and cause environmental damage in both land and sea.

Must read: Ban on Single-Use Plastic – Explained, pointwise
How does the ban be implemented?

So far 32 States/UTs have reportedly constituted a dedicated Task Force to eliminate the use of single-use plastics. Of these 14 states/UTs and 12 Central Ministries had developed action plans describing how they would be enforcing this.

Penal provisions: According to the Environment Protection (EP) Act, violating the ban could invite “punitive action”. The EP Act says that violating the ban could invite five-year imprisonment and a fine of upto ₹1 lakh, or both. If the violations are repeated, it could mean additional fines of up to ₹5000 for each day.

There are different penalties for companies, organisations, and government departments under the EP Act.

Read more: Explained: Why is single-use plastic being banned in India from July 1
About the previous ban on plastics in India

At the 4th United Nations Environment Assembly in 2019, India piloted a resolution on addressing single-use plastic product pollution.

Before the amendments came into force, the Plastic Waste Management Rules only prohibited the manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of carry bags and plastic sheets less than 50 microns in thickness in the country. There is a ban on sachets using plastic material used for storing, packing or selling gutkha, tobacco and pan masala.

Since October 2021, there is a ban on the manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of carry bags made of virgin or recycled plastic less than 75 microns.

Note: Plastic packaging waste is a major contributor to the much larger problem of plastic waste pollution. But this single-use plastic item is yet to be phased out.

Read more: Single-use plastic ban: Reading the fine print reveals ominous loopholes
What are the impacts of the ban?

The All India Plastic Manufacturers Association said that the ban would shutter 88,000 units in the plastic manufacturing business. These employ close to a million people and contribute to exports worth ₹25,000 crores.

Fast Moving Consumer Goods companies (FMCG) would be severely affected by the ban due to their dependence on plastic straws, and plates.

Read more: India’s ban on select single-use plastic items: A start but still a long way from blanket ban
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